Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Quick Summary

It's perfectly natural to wonder about your life expectancy after being diagnosed with any form of mesothelioma. It’s your doctor’s duty to provide you with a clear and well-informed prediction of what you can expect in terms of treatment, quality of life and life expectancy.

While a mesothelioma prognosis can be bleak, there is hope. New treatments are improving life expectancy, and you can count on support from friends, family and your care team. Plus, there are steps you can take to improve your life expectancy, or at least improve your general health and well-being.

How Doctors Determine Life Expectancy

Working with the right doctor is crucial for receiving an accurate life expectancy estimation. When it comes to the determining life expectancy in the discussion about prognosis, your doctor will make estimates based on the prognoses of past mesothelioma patients. Doctors put together a timeframe based on patient data, and by assessing your health and lifestyle. They also look at factors such as your age, gender, mesothelioma cell type, and cancer stage.

While your doctor forms their estimation by drawing on their expertise and medical data, that does not mean there is no hope for longer survival. You may be able to increase your life expectancy by leading the healthiest lifestyle you can.

Access to frontline treatments can also help you improve your survival rate. It’s important to remember that new advancements in how we treat mesothelioma have shown significant improvements in life expectancy. The way mesothelioma progresses in one patient may be different from cancer’s course in another patient. Your doctor will help you determine the best treatment combinations to help improve your prognosis.

Factors Affecting Life Expectancy for Mesothelioma Patients

Life Expectancy Factors Update

Disease stage is one factor that doctors look at when predicting life expectancy. Mesothelioma stage represents how advanced the cancer is and how far it has spread from the original location. Of course, early stage mesothelioma is more treatable, and therefore generally presents better life expectancy.


The mesothelioma location (pleural, peritoneal or pericardial) also has an impact on life expectancy. Mesothelioma location directly determines treatment options, and some of these therapies are more effective than others.

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients generally live longer than patients with pleural mesothelioma, with more than half surviving 5 years after diagnosis. Pericardial mesothelioma has the poorest prognosis of the 3 primary disease locations.

Cell Type

Mesothelioma cell type (mesothelioma histology) also affects life expectancy. There are 3 cell variants. Epithelioid mesothelioma presents the longest life expectancy because these cells respond to treatment best. Biphasic mesothelioma is somewhat more difficult to treat, but this depends on the ratio of epithelioid to sarcomatoid cells in the tumor. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the most difficult to treat because it can spread to other parts of the body more easily. Sarcomatoid cells are also less responsive to therapy because they are resistant to the anti-cancer drugs.

Survival Rate

Survival rate differs from life expectancy, though the terms can sometimes be confusing. While life expectancy is a prediction of how long a patient is expected to survive, survival rate describes the percentage of patients who survive a certain benchmark after they’ve been diagnosed. Most commonly, survival rate is measured using – year and 5-year milestones.

According to 2015 study in Translational Oncology called Changing Pattern in Malignant Mesothelioma Survival, there is a positive improvement in mesothelioma survival rates. The study found the following survival rates:

Pleural Mesothelioma:

  • 1-year — 73%
  • 5-year — 12%
  • 10-year — 5%

Peritoneal Mesothelioma:

  • 1-year — 92%
  • 5-year — 65%
  • 10-year — 39%

Survival rates are formed based on statistics from historical patient data. It’s key to be aware of misleading survival rate statistics and know the limits of their accuracy. The data often includes patients who didn’t undergo necessary treatment as well as those who didn’t have access to mesothelioma specialists. A mesothelioma specialist can typically provide much more relevant care and treatment than a general oncologist.

The medical community is learning more and more about this form of cancer and understanding it better. New mesothelioma treatment combinations are being improved and tested as well. All this is leading to an improvement in survivorship for mesothelioma patients, and there is more hope for the future.

Individual Patient Factors

In addition to cancer-specific factors such as stage and cell type, your biology plays an important role in how your life expectancy is determined.

Here are a few of those biological factors:

Patient Age

Your age factors into your prognosis, and thereby your life expectancy. Because younger patients tend to have stronger immune systems, they are often better qualified for aggressive treatments. They can recover more quickly as well.

More than 40% of patients under the age of 45 reach the 5-year survival rate after being diagnosed. By contrast, less than 6% of patients over 65 will live to that 5-year mark.

That being said, there are steps you can take to improve the quality of life in older patients.

Patient Gender

When it comes to life expectancy for mesothelioma, women tend to have better prognoses than men do. The reason for this isn’t entirely certain, but it may have to do with hormones. However, the statistics are clear—women are 3 times more likely to survive 5 years after diagnosis than men are.

How to Increase Your Life Expectancy

There are steps you can take to improve your prognosis, possibly impacting your life expectancy.

The first step to take is to find a mesothelioma specialist. A specialist understands the type of cancer you have in-depth and can provide the most optimal recommendations for treatment, lifestyle changes, and support.

While general oncologists can provide a good level of care and expertise, mesothelioma specialists are far more qualified to provide advice on how to improve your prognosis or what line of treatment to embrace. Remember that mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer, so many oncology professionals are not familiar with its complexities and specific characteristics.

Mesothelioma specialists are at the forefront of the industry, providing high-level care and expertise. They are also informed of the latest developments and innovations in mesothelioma treatments.

Your doctor can:

Don’t forget to take care of your general health to the best of your ability. Improving your immune system, increasing your physical fitness and avoiding other illnesses can all contribute to your body’s ability to fight mesothelioma.

Some steps you can take include:

  • Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet with lots of fruits and vegetables—see a nutritionist or talk to your doctor for a specific, personalized diet plan
  • Quit smoking
  • Get enough sleep each night
  • Stay active and exercise when you can
  • Do activities that help you de-stress
  • Keep your mind active with reading or puzzles
  • Drink fluids to keep your body hydrated

In addition to physical measures, make sure you find a healthy way to cope with the emotional and mental stressors that cancer and treatment can lead to. Find support systems in your friends, family, and care team. Do things that you enjoy regularly and find a schedule and lifestyle that works for you.

Contact Mesothelioma Help Now today to speak with one of our Patient Advocates. We can answer questions, provide resources or connect you with a mesothelioma specialist who can provide you with the best treatment to improve your life expectancy. Call us now at (800) 584-4151.